Monday, 26 March 2012

The Restaurant Arzak. An unforgetable dining experience in San Sebastian

The Restuarant Arzak - San Sebastian

I am not sure what it is about the north of Spain that produces chefs of such brilliance.

Juan Mari Arzak is no exception other than being exceptional, and then what happens, he has daughter and she also reins supreme in the kitchen alongside her father, one of the undisputed kings of cookery.

The restaurant which bares his name is located in San Sebastian and is owned and run by one of the founding fathers of the Nuevo Cocina Vasca. He is aided expertly by his daughter Elena, a master chef in her own right. There is a special menu of the day which includes appetizers, two meats, a cheese plate and two desserts.

The chef makes his rounds and chats with the regulars. This is one of Spain's first three star Michelin restaurants and reservations are a must. The decor is traditional with the dining area being spacious but not large and retains intimacy. The clientele is mainly older patrons, most of whom are locals.
Chef Juan Mari and his team opened a culinary research laboratory, located next door the restaurant back in 2001. It is now aptly run by another two fine chefs, Xabier Gutierrez and Igor Zalakain. The lab is full of the latest technical equipment and is home to around 1.600 flavours and scents from around the world which are all sorted and classified. New ideas for dishes are created here which will be used in future recipes at this world famous restaurant.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Old Quarter - Malaga

Malaga is the second largest city in Southern Spain, after Sevilla, and the Capital of the Costa Del Sol. With a population of around 650.000 inhabitants it is recognised as having the best climate for any city of its size in Europe.

Of the many hundreds of thousands of visitors to the province of Malaga each year many will not venture into Malaga itself, which is a great shame as the city has been transformed over the past few years, specially the historic quarter. 

Malaga is also the grand father to the popular surrounding holiday resorts which lay east of the city, including Benalmadena, Torremolinos, Fuengirola and the chic resort of Marbella.

The cultural heritage of Malaga can now take centre stage and is home to the Picasso Museum which is housed in the beautiful old Palacio de la Bellavista. Picasso is probably Malaga’s most famous son and the impressive Picasso museum is testament to that fact. Around 150 pieces of Picasso´s are exhibited on two floors and include paintings, drawings, sculptures and lithographs.

The house where Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born is located on the Plaza de la Merced, 3 minutes walk from the museum. There you can see things relating to the life and work from all the different periods of his exceptional life and is an interesting stop over even if art is not your thing.

Proudly watching over this cosmopolitan capital is the Castillo de Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba ( Moorish fortress ). The castle dates back to the 14th century and has pretty fountains and fine manicured gardens whilst the origins of the Alcazaba date to the 11th century, both have impressive views over Malaga, the port area and the Mediterranean sea.

The historic Malaga Cathedral is affectionately known as “La Manguita“ the one armed lady, as only one of the two planned towers where ever finished.
The old part of Malaga is the most interesting area and is located two minutes walk from the new port all around the Cathedral. The narrow streets which wind off in all directions from Larios Street ooze Andalucian charm, the area is perfect for afternoon walks, specially in the in spring and summer months where you will come across some of the best restaurants and Tapas bars in the area which sit alide historic buildings such as the Picasso Museum and charming old Andalucian plazas.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Mallorca - Simply a Beautiful Mediterranean Island

Mallorca is one of the most popular holiday destinations of Europe. The largest island of the Balearic Islands is more than a holiday destination with sun, white sandy beaches and a great nightlife, it is an island rich in architecture and enchanting mountain villages that are blessed with that kind of still tranquillity that can bring you back to your senses.

Mallorca or Majorca, which one is correct ? well both are fine to use.On the island itself it is known as Mallorca, and comes from the Catalan language which is frequently spoken on this island. However many years ago the Island was known as Majorca (meaning Major Island of the Balearics). It is also commonly known as Majorca in the English speaking world though.

The island has an area of ??about 3,600 square kilometres, 554 of coastline and a population of less than a million inhabitants. The average annual temperature is of about 19 degrees Celsius and there is a yearly average of 3000 hours of sunshine, excellent good reasons to start looking for a property for sale in Mallorca.

Mallorca also known as the island of dreams has a varied landscape of mountains, valleys, pine forests, olive and almond trees and beaches. Other attractions include the Caves of Drach, the Sierra de Tramuntana and the Sanctuary of Lluc, the spiritual centre of Mallorca. One of the most representative buildings, architecturally speaking, is the Bellver Castle, as it is one of the only three European castles in existence with a circular form.

The Cathedral of Santa María of Palma, is famous for having a large rose-window and is of a gothic Levantine style, to the point of being known as the gothic eye. The Sanctuary of Lluch, the most important place on the island for pilgrimage, because there is to be found the Virgen de Lluch (Patron Saint of Mallorca). 'El Paseo' of Calviá is considered to be the 'green lung' of the municipality, with a length of 32 kilometres. The Castle of Bendinat was built in the XIX century by the Marquis of the Romana.

The Son Sant Joan international airport , located 8 km from Palma de Mallorca, is the main gateway to the island. There is a wide range of direct flights from many European cities, especially from Germany and the UK. If you arrive by sea, there are daily connections from different ports of the peninsula such as Barcelona, Valencia, Denia and other ports of the Balearic Islands such as Ibiza, Mahon and Ciutadella.

The Plaza de España in Palma is connected to all towns and resorts on the island through a bus network that also connects you to the airport, the beach or the University.In this same square there is a line of trains to Inca, Manacor and Sa Pobla. Another train, in this case mainly for tourism, is the electric train which has been running since 1912, through the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains from Palma to Soller.

One of the biggest draws for a huge number of holiday makers to the Island of Mallorca are the fantastic and often very quiet coves or Calas as they are known as in Spanish. The Calas have superb beaches, secure bathing and crystal clean waters .
They are a great places to chill out, safe for all the family to enjoy the sand, sea and the local cuisine. The south east coast is home to the S´ Amarador beach which it sits in the Mondrago National Park and is a well preserved and unspoilt beach with magnificent views over the clear blue Mediterranean sea. It is made up of fine white sand and has often been voted the best beach in Spain.